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DEM Development from Ground-Based LiDAR Data: A Method to Remove Non-Surface Objects

WV GIS Technical Center, Department of Geology & Geography, 330 Brooks Hall, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26505 USA
Department of Renewable Resources, University of Wyoming, Laramie, 1000 E. University Ave. WY 82071, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2010, 2(11), 2629-2642;
Received: 25 September 2010 / Revised: 12 October 2010 / Accepted: 8 November 2010 / Published: 23 November 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue LiDAR)
PDF [640 KB, uploaded 19 June 2014]


Topography and land cover characteristics can have significant effects on infiltration, runoff, and erosion processes on watersheds. The ability to model the timing and routing of surface water and erosion is affected by the resolution of the digital elevation model (DEM). High resolution ground-based Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) technology can be used to collect detailed topographic and land cover characteristic data. In this study, a method was developed to remove vegetation from ground-based LiDAR data to create high resolution DEMs. Research was conducted on intensively studied rainfall–runoff plots on the USDA-ARS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed in Southeast Arizona. LiDAR data were used to generate 1 cm resolution digital surface models (DSM) for 5 plots. DSMs created directly from LiDAR data contain non-surface objects such as vegetation cover. A vegetation removal method was developed which used a slope threshold and a focal mean filter method to remove vegetation and create bare earth DEMs. The method was validated on a synthetic plot, where rocks and vegetation were added incrementally. Results of the validation showed a vertical error of ±7.5 mm in the final DEM. View Full-Text
Keywords: topography; rainfall-runoff plots; vegetation removal; DSM; bare earth model topography; rainfall-runoff plots; vegetation removal; DSM; bare earth model

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Sharma, M.; Paige, G.B.; Miller, S.N. DEM Development from Ground-Based LiDAR Data: A Method to Remove Non-Surface Objects. Remote Sens. 2010, 2, 2629-2642.

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